Senate Approves Deal To Avert Fiscal Cliff - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Senate Approves Deal To Avert Fiscal Cliff

Posted: Updated:

NBCNEWS.COM - An agreement in principle to avert broad tax increases and spending cuts passed in the Senate early Tuesday morning, with an overwhelming vote of 89-8.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote before Wednesday.

The interim New Year's Eve tax deal negotiated by Biden and Senate Republican Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky would raise income taxes on single earners with annual incomes above $400,000 and married couples with incomes above $450,000.

It also blocks spending cuts for two months, extends unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless, prevents a 27 percent cut in fees for doctors who treat Medicare patients and prevents a spike in milk prices.

As of mid-afternoon Monday, the sticking point involved the "sequester," the cuts to spending – about $100 billion to start in 2013 -- that were mandated by the Budget Control Act which President Barack Obama signed into law last year. Republicans have signaled they might let the sequester take effect unless it was offset by other spending cuts; the GOP has also said it might accept a delay, but only for a few months.

The Obama administration, however, was pushing for a longer delay in implementing the sequester. Otherwise, the president said, replacing those automatic cuts must be "balanced" — shorthand for a combination of new taxes and other spending cuts.

Obama tried to push talks over the finish line earlier in the afternoon with a statement from the White House.

"Today, it appears that an agreement to prevent this New Year's tax hike is within sight," the president said at the White House on Monday. "But it's not done."

In the absence of a broader agreement to resolve the sequester, McConnell appeared in the Senate floor to request a vote only on the tax element of the fiscal cliff.

"Let's pass the tax relief portion now," he said. "Let's take what's been agreed to and keep moving."

But it's not clear that Democrats, who were led in negotiations by Vice President Joe Biden, would agree to de-link the tax debate from other fights over the sequester and extending expiring unemployment benefits past Dec. 31.

House Republicans were careful to note that it was still possible for them to add votes late on New Year's Eve. But they also argued that there was no Senate-passed legislation on which they could schedule a vote, making the prospect of avoiding the cliff all the less likely.

Democratic and Republican sources in the House told NBC News that a final vote on any deal would now most likely wait until afternoon on New Year's Day, or even on Jan. 2.

Though Congress could still conceivably act after New Year's to preserve existing tax rates — thereby limiting any lasting effect on consumers — their inability to reach an agreement until the very last minute could still threaten to rattle the economy and markets.

The House did act late Sunday, though, to clear the way for emergency consideration of Senate legislation if leaders are able to reach an agreement. The House Rules Committee convened with the purpose of dispensing with a rule instilled by Republicans in the early days of 2011 to require that legislation be posted online for a full 72 hours before a vote in the House. GOP leaders had sought that rule to showcase their own transparency, and in reaction to actions by the previous Democratic majority to quickly pass legislation during the health care reform battles of 2010.

Republicans' move to sidestep their own rule underscores the urgency of fiscal cliff talks in the final hours of 2012. There were few ironclad assurances, though, that any Senate agreement would necessarily win the support of the House.

The lurching nature of legislating has been characteristic of the Congress during the last two years, and that's a phenomenon that may well continue into the next Congress, when Democrats will continue to retain control of the Senate, and Republicans will hold a slightly slimmer grasp on the House.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • 10 Cheapest Houses For Sale In Spokane

    10 Cheapest Houses For Sale In Spokane

    Wednesday, November 27 2013 2:35 AM EST2013-11-27 07:35:08 GMT
    Whether you are in the market for an affordable place to live or are in the business of flipping houses, here are the 10 cheapest homes for sale in Spokane according to AllSpokaneHomes.com.>>
    SPOKANE, Wash. - Whether you are in the market for an affordable place to live or are in the business of flipping houses, here are the 10 cheapest homes for sale in Spokane according to AllSpokaneHomes.com. Yes, they all need some work and some need a lot more than others, but when your mortgage payment is around the $200/month range there's at least something to stay positive about.>>
  • INCREDIBLE drone video shows fire destruction over Pateros/Brewster

    INCREDIBLE drone video shows fire destruction over Pateros/Brewster

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 9:51 AM EDT2014-07-22 13:51:52 GMT
    KHQ.COM - Chelan HD Productions has given us permission to show this incredible video they shot with a drone surveying the damage done from the Carlton Complex Fire in the areas of Brewster and Pateros. This video is truly jaw dropping and really shows the level of destruction from the fire.>>
    KHQ.COM - Chelan HD Productions has given us permission to show this incredible video they shot with a drone surveying the damage done from the Carlton Complex Fire in the areas of Brewster and Pateros. This video is truly jaw dropping and really shows the level of destruction from the fire.>>
  • Do you know this person? Suspect still at large in Jitterz coffee stand robbery

    Do you know this person? Suspect still at large in Jitterz coffee stand robbery

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 5:14 PM EDT2014-07-23 21:14:57 GMT
    COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - Coeur d’Alene Police Detectives and the North Idaho Violent Crimes Task Force are continuing to investigate the Robbery of The Jitterz coffee stand in the 2800 block of Government Way. The suspect is described as a white male, early 20’s, 5’08”-5’09”, very skinny build, white T-shirt, blue jean shorts.>>
    COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - Coeur d’Alene Police Detectives and the North Idaho Violent Crimes Task Force are continuing to investigate the Robbery of The Jitterz coffee stand in the 2800 block of Government Way. The suspect is described as a white male, early 20’s, 5’08”-5’09”, very skinny build, white T-shirt, blue jean shorts.>>